Friday, 8 June 2018

Mind Over Monsoons: How To Be Productive When It's Raining

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet
-Roger Miller

Its that time of the year again when the sunlight has been tuned down to a minimum and the sky is overcast with clouds, rain, thunder, and lightning. Every time you look out of your window it gets harder to tell what time of the day it is and you can't help but feel sleepy, lazy and oh, did I mention hungry? It doesn't help that it is almost holiday season so you are stuck at home, with nothing to do, or at least that's what you think. 

As the rains have started in many parts of South India and will now be moving up north, I thought this was the best time to write a blog post on Mind Over Monsoons. I had been feeling gloomy and unproductive in this weather but I find myself having a lot of free time and I am here to tell you how to be productive when it's raining outside. Your ultimate guide to monsoon productivity is here, so make yourself a cup of hot tea or coffee and settle down, take notes and spend the rest of your summer and monsoon break at maximum productivity level!

Top Ten Ways To
Planning You Way To Monsoon Productivity 

      1. Organize/Plan/ Make a To-do list
This is a no-brainer and applicable for all year round productivity but the reason why this is the number one point in my guide is that during the holidays we feel entitled to 'do nothing'. I myself have been guilty of this several times. Even if you do not have a day to day list of items that you want to do at least have a general idea of the goals you want to complete in this one or one and half month break. This will help you stay on track and god, oh god, the satisfaction of ticking that thing off after you have finished it is something your inner nerd will thank you for later.

      2. Get Creative
Okay, so you can't go outdoors, big deal. There are hundreds of interesting things to do from the comfort of your home. 

  • Have you always been wanting to decorate your room, put up photos or fairy lights? You can do that now!
  • Paint pictures or glass painting on old used bottles
  • Make that scrapbook which you have eyeing on Pinterest.
  • Start a photo journal
  • Play some music, write blog posts, make your website, make YouTube videos!!!

    3. Hello, Endorphins!
It's raining outside and it's not drizzling. No. It's pouring sideways and the roads are jammed and you cant make it to your gym. You can't go out jogging in the park. So what do you do? Watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S on repeat? Yes, you could do that. But you could do that while exercising from the comfort of your own home!
  • Try yoga at home. You can find many YouTube videos and follow along.
  • Do a quick skipping session with your simple jump rope
  • Put on loud music and dance like no one's watching
  • Pilates! Just you, your body weight and a yoga mat. 
  • Clean your house. It's going to help you stretch and get in a good work out.

     4. Online Courses.
School or college is closed but you can still learn a lot through online courses and this can be in any field of your interest. Websites like Coursera and Udemy offer many online certificate courses for you to choose from and it will not only give you a new skill but also add to your resume.

    5. Online Internships
I am not asking you to fly across the country here. From the comfort of your home, apply for Work From Home internships and do freelance work for companies. If you start looking you will be surprised at how many companies need an intern to help them out. Internshala and Twenty19 can help you there. 

     6. Cooking experiments
All those dishes you said you would cook but never did because you did not have 'enough time' well guess what, now you are free and I am hungry. So cook some delicious food because we tend to get more hungry in this weather. Bake some delicious food too and don't forget to take photos and tag #TimeTravellinShutterbug on Instagram if you want them to be featured on my account.

Photo credit ITC Hotels

   7. Pamper Yourself With At Home Spa Day
You finally have some time for yourself so while you watch that movie for the 15th time, you can simultaneously pamper your skin and hair. Please remember that all the rain and dirt in the monsoon is going to leave your feet dirty and they will need some extra care.
  • Scrub your face, arms and legs do de tan with some potato, tomato or even homemade besan and channa flour scrub.
  • Put on some hair oil after a good hair and head massage or put on a hair mask
  • Put on a face pack/ Multani mitti/ yoghurt-honey-turmeric etc
  • Clean your nails and give yourself a mini meni-pedi, soak your limbs in some hot water with salts
  • Take a long hot shower, shampoo, and condition
  • Moisturize and finish off with fresh nail paint
Viola, you are a whole new person!

Photo from Google Images

   8. Indoor games
Be it board games or other small in-door games, the time to play them is now when it is raining. Try monopoly, snake and ladders, housie, card games, hide and seek, dumb charades etc. Growing up, I used to have my neighbor girls and friends over all the time during holidays and we would play these all day long. It's time to bring back some of that childhood memories to our grown up-adult self- summer/monsoon breaks.

   9. Reading & Writing
I am guilty of buying or borrowing novels and never getting around to finishing them as I get caught up in academic work. Monsoon holidays can be the perfect time to catch up on reading and hey if you are that broody writer type then start writing now! Stay motivated with hot drinks like green tea, coffee, hot chocolate or tea! It will instantly give you a boost.

  10. Time Off
Monsoons many time come with power cuts and this is the perfect excuse to get off technology, internet, and social media. Make some tea and pakodas, play games with your friends and family read a book, make your arts and crafts and just take a social media detox.

Are there any other things that you love to do in monsoons which I have not mentioned in this ultimate guide to monsoons? Leave them down in the comments below. Suggestions, comments, and questions are always welcome.

Share this blog post with your friends who have complained of being bored in the holidays or feeling lazy due to the gloomy weather and you can thank me later!

Like what you see and want more travel blog post, inspiration, travel style and budget travel ideas then go follow my Instagram account @timetravellingshutterbug

Acknowledgement: To my sister, Sonali Khetia for taking my photos for this blog post.

Links To Get You Going:
Online Courses: CourseraUdemy
Internships: InternshalaTwenty 19

Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

How To: Kill It At The Beach In Indian Summers

We all love a good beach vacay. Am I right or am I right?! Whether it is a boys day out playing ball and getting dirty and sweaty with no shirts on or a girls gang going out on the beach to enjoy some suntan or a couple’s lazy day out, beach vacations are the best. A lot of people who face long winters many times seek out beach vacations to get away from the cold and I can absolutely see why. Having fresh coconut, building sandcastles by the sea, enjoying seafood and the sun, seems just perfect recipe for a vacation to relax and unwind. 

But, here's the Indian Summer twist to the Vitamin Sea dream. Indian Summers are hot! Very, very hot. I was just reading a thread on a travel group where someone asked if Goa in May was a good idea. Let's rewind to exactly one year ago around 26-27th May. That is exactly where I was! Right out of B Pharm, planned the perfect mandatory Goa trip after graduation. So, yes, sometimes it is inevitable that you find yourself planning a beach vacation in this scorching heat. But that's where I got your back. I have got a few essentials, tips and tricks to help you plan a smooth and hassle-free beach day trip or an entire weekend.

Top Ten Essentials For A Beach Vacation

1. Sun Screen.
This is the most essential item you absolutely must carry with you while you head out to the beach. Ignoring sunscreen on a daily basis is one thing (not good, but okay :/) while not wearing sunscreen on the beach is totally bad for your skin. Find a good waterproof sunscreen of SPF 50 with UVA and UVB protection to ensure maximum protection. Make sure to apply it liberally on all exposed parts and reapply after a few hours if necessary. I have a sunburn that is of a cold shoulder top shape and is going to last about three months so I absolutely know what I am talking about.

2. Beach Wear
Bikini, shorts, speedos, swimsuit whatever is your style do not forget to carry it to your beach trip. You might not want to swim but even the toughest of decisions are changed once seeing beautiful beach waters. So just carry it as a back-up. Try it out at home first in case it has been a while since you last wore it to ensure it is okay and fits right in all places. Another mandatory must is a plastic bag to store your wet clothes after swimming so it does not drench the rest of your bag. Flip flops are recommended instead of other shoes which might get spoiled in the sand.

3. Lounge Mat/Bedsheet/Towel
Depending on the beach you decided to go to you may or may not have beach beds/chairs etc. It is best to carry a bed sheet or a lounge mat to the beach. You can use your towel too if you have an extra one in hand. Anything you can use to lie down/sit on the beach will work. Get something larger if you are meant to share it with your partner for a date.

4. Beach Hat and Sunglasses
Admit it or not, selfies on the beach need sunglasses in them.  Period. To have this in check and also for the more important reason of protecting your eyes, carry your sunglasses with you to the beach. A beach hat is also recommended to protect your hair from the heat and keep your head cool.

5.Music/Speakers/ Earphones.
Soft music or party music, the choice is yours but music is essential while you are chilling on the beach. If you are in a group, carry a speaker or if you are on a private beach carry your earphones and blast in some tunes to match the rhythm of the beach waves. In fact, you could make a beach playlist right now after reading this article and get ready for your next beach vacation! This one down here is on amaizing discount and was voted a bestseller!

 6. Beach Ball
If your beach vacation happens to be with a group, carry a beach ball with you. You could play football, volleyball, cricket or even play with the plastic ball in the ocean. The options are endless and all you need to make that happen is a good beach ball. You can carry other games like a pack of cards. 

7. Food/ Picnic Bag
As this article is written for the masses, we need to address the fact that not everyone will be going to a commercial beach with shacks and restaurants. If your vacation happens to be a secret getaway on a remote beach in the middle of nowhere you definitely need food and drinks with you on the go. Easy options include sandwiches of all kinds, chips, biscuits, fresh fruits, sodas, beers etc

8. Summer Reads
The ride to the beach or any time during your beach vacation you may come across a situation where you just want to hang out on your own and read a book. Easy summer reads or even an audiobook can come in handy. Carry a book with you at all times! 

9. Camera
It can be your mobile camera or something advanced like a DSLR, but you will want to take back memories from your beautiful beach vacation and you absolutely must have some form of camera on you in order to make that happen. If you plan to go on a long vacation carry additional memory cards for your camera with you too so you do not run out of space while you capture the beautiful beach photos.

10. Batteries/Chargers
Carry some extra mobile battery or a backup charger/battery with you while on the go. You will be using your phone a lot, for music, photos, directions and what not. Having a backup battery option while saving you in time of need and give you the peace of mind! Do not rely on someone else having a charger or battery to match your phone. With the technology variety in the market, everyone has a different pin/plug on their phones. It is crazy out there!

You can easily get dehydrated so drink lots of water and coconut water too. That is one thing people forget to do. Remember, having water around you does not mean that you drink less water!

Before you go, be sure to follow my super active self on Instagram where I share all my trips on Insta Stories

So there you have it, the top ten items you need while going for a beach vacation. Which item do you swear by? Is there something I missed on this list? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below. Get that head start on your summer beach body and stick to those new year resolutions. You will be beach ready in no time. And oh, don’t forget to get all your beach essentials on your vacation. 

That's all for this blog post. Be sure to leave your comments and feedback down below. Are you going to any exciting beaches this summer, if so where?

Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Birthday By The Beach

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things"

-Henry Miller.

The birthday girl wished for a birthday by the beach and I being the travel-granting fairy took matters into my own hands. As I many times say all I need to make things happen is the name of my next destination. I had two beach resorts near Mangalore which were begging to be explored. I honestly can't even remember where I came across the Turtle Beach Bay in Trasi. Much like the infamous Goa trip, our beach trip was almost over before it begun. After celebrating my friend Fatema's birthday at midnight it was almost impossible for our group of five to be up and ready at seven in the morning. I obviously ironed my clothes in the middle of the night and had my beach wardrobe all set but this day was not about me. And so I went back to sleep when no one woke up at seven in the morning thinking of all the chores I could accomplish that Sunday *Inner Monica rejoicing* The heavens had other plans however and who was I to deny them :p Over breakfast at the mess it was decided to go to the beach anyway. Like they say better late than never! We quickly grabbed our bags and begun our journey to the beach.

It took us around one and a half hour to reach the beach resort. We had the beach to ourselves. Yes, that's right! Just the five of us. There were a few guests staying in the rooms at the resort but they did not swim. After admiring the beautiful beach and taking a few photos we changed into our swimsuits and jumped right into the water. It was the perfect temperature at around one in the afternoon. As it was a rather sunny day, we applied generous amounts of sunscreen. After some swimming where we played piggyback water fight we took a break for some well-deserved lunch. The resort has a restaurant with a decent menu.

Post-lunch we went swimming one more time. Turtle Beach also had beach volleyball and other activities. As we were on a tight schedule due to some pending nursing assignments we had to leave before the sunset. But here's the secret scoop only for my readers. The direction of this beach does offer a sunset at the beach! So in case, you plan to follow my lead and go check out this place for yourself you must stay back for sunset and send me those photos!

The beach has showers and changing facilities so one can easily freshen up after swimming. I luckily carried my shampoo and managed to wash my hair saving me from doing it later at night when I would be exhausted.We made our return journey while listening to tunes and chatting away. At one point we even stopped to buy fruits from the bus stop for the week ahead. Before parting ways we enjoyed some hot ginger tea and then said our goodbyes. This trip was over but the memories we had collected were going to last us a lifetime. Also, I am certain that I will be going back to Turtle Bay Beach Resort.

Seeing Is Believing
Travel Vlog: Birthday By The Beach

If you see what you like please like, comment, share and subscribe!

Everything You Want To Know About Turtle Bay Beach Resort

How to reach?

Take a bus/train to Kundapur in Karnataka. From Manipal a bus to Udupi and a connecting bus to Kundapur. From Kundapur take a bus to Trasi. If you have a private vehicle you are sorted!

How much cash to carry?

I would say about 1000 rupees.
Food: 200-300
Entrance: 250
Transport to and fro by bus: 150
It's always good to have extra cash in hand. Also in case you want to try out any water sports, you may need extra cash.

How long to stay?A day trip would be recommended. The shower facility is sufficient for all your daytime needs.The rooms available are expensive from a budget travel point of view costing around 2500+ per night.

What to carry?

You can carry your own food if you wish!
1) Sunscreen
2) Towel
3) Sunglasses/Hat
4) Swimwear
5) Extra pair of clothes
6) Cards, beach ball or other games.
7) Sunglasses
8) Music and speakers
9) Shampoo and toiletries.
10) A plastic bag for your w
et clothes!

For other Beach Destination ideas you can check my other blog posts:
1. Goa After Graduation

2. St.Mary's Island

3. Beach Therapy: Murudeshwara

4. Gokarna Girls Trip

You can stay up to date with all my travel stories and photos by following me on my very active My Instagram Account
That's all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved experiencing it. But don't stop there go ahead and see it for yourself! Thank you for reading. All comments and feedback is appreciated in the comments section below.

Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Girls On A Mission: Christmas Travel Diaries

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places"
-Isabelle Eberhardt.

Five girls on a mission to have the most unconventional Christmas ever. A summery Christmas, by the beach, who would have thought of that? Well, me of course. Duh! Some trips are cut short for a reason. It is because their destiny is to be fulfilled later, in a better way. This was one of those trips for me. On my last blog post Lost In The Forest With No Network: Exploring Yana Caves, I explained how my trip was cut short. Luckily just two weeks after that, I was ready for yet another trip to the same village of  Kumta. 

Mirjan fort had been on my bucket list for the longest time. It is at equidistance from both Gokarna Railway Station and Kumta Railway Station (12 kilometers). Travelling as I normally do on a budget-friendly style, we took the 7.30 am train from Udupi station and reached Kumta by 10.30 am. Although the train was jam packed due to the holidays and we had trouble finding seats, our timing was really good. After grabbing a bite from the local bakery near the station, we took a bus to Mirjan fort. The fort is just 0.5 kilometers from the highway and we easily walked up to the fort. 

There are many versions of when and who made the Mirjan fort. One of them talks of Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa (Vijayanagar Empire). She built the fort in the 16th century and is said to have ruled for 54 years. A lot of items were traded from the fort under her rule the prominent one being pepper and hence she was named as the Pepper Queen by the Portuguese.

It was an extremely sunny day but we were all pumped and sunshine was not going to come in the way of our spirit. We took a ton of photos from every angle possible. This was also the first time I was traveling with my new phone the MIA1 from Xaomi. The photos came out relatively good although the phone does not perform well in low light situation but this is a travel blog post and not a phone review :p

A little dehydrated from walking around the fort we took shelter under what literally seemed like the Tree Of Life. It seemed like the perfect picnic spot as we snacked on food and listened to good music while chatting away. After some rest and refreshment, we headed back to the highway and caught a bus to Gokarna. From the Gokarna bus stop, we took an auto and were on our way to Kudle Beach. Nostalgia hit me right in my guts as I stepped on Kudle Beach. It seemed just like yesterday when I was in my third year and had gone for my first girls trip with my best friends. It was TheTime When The Ticket Checker (TC) Caught Us and it was my first ever blog post on my blog (so many memories). The beach looked perfect. Just the way it did two years ago like nothing had changed but I knew it did because for one thing the shack where I previously stayed was closed down.

The photos in this blog post cannot justify my experience. I must insist that if you are a travel or photography enthusiast go ahead and follow me on my home planet Instagram. My handle is @timetravellingshutterbug. I post my travel updates in my Insta stories and am always writing mini blog posts related to my trips with each photo and leaving extra tips and tricks for all my followers. Here is the nine photos from this trip that I just posted and not including this screenshot would not justify my experience of this trip. So go ahead find me and follow me. I promise my comedic stories and polls shall not disappoint you.

We were starving as it was almost five in the evening and we were surviving on tea, lemonade, and one samosa since morning. We went to the Sunrise Cafe and found ourselves a nice table. I ordered myself a Hawaiian pizza to go with the tropical vibe. The crowd at the beach was perfect and everyone was enjoying the Christmas holidays. A bunch of guys were trying to balance and walk on ropes tied to trees, people were getting hair wraps, others were sunbathing and many swimming. 

After finishing our food my friend Nandini convinced me to join her for a swim and I gave in because the water temperature was just perfect. It was one of the best swims I have ever had. We jumped up and down with the waves like little kids. I was glad to have packed a beach dress just in case of a situation like this. It was not a swimsuit but it was an extra pair of clothing, just what you need for an impromptu swimming session!  

After the swim, I changed in the restroom of the same cafe where we had our meal. After watching the sunset, we got autos and headed for the station to make our return journey back to base. Luckily the train was a few minutes late or else we would have missed it. It also had an empty ladies compartment and we relaxed on our way back, chatting away in loud voices over the sound of the running train and the wind.

I am not going to do the tips for Gokarna because honestly there are no tips. You can go for a single day or stay overnight. It is just a place to let loose, enjoy the ocean and some good food. Travel to and fro from Manipal or by railway is cheap. I spent only 700 rupees on this entire trip and 300 of that was on my pizza and cold coffee. It is a perfect place for a quick getaway with friends. It is also picturesque and you can go off exploring. Gokarna also offers treks from one beach to the other. It is a must visit for all beach lovers. As for the Mirjan fort, my one and crucial tip would be to go somewhere just after the rains so that the fort is much greener and better for photography instead of dry and summer weather.

That's all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions. Also if you have any travel destinations around Karnataka that you want to suggest go ahead because I am a self-proclaimed Karnataka Travel Ambassador. The tourism department needs to start paying me now :p Go follow me on my very public Instagram profile. Until next time, have a great January and stick to those resolutions!

Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Lost In The Forest With No Network: Exploring Yana Caves

"Travel brings power and love back into your life"     

If you are reading this then that means I have obviously survived and found my way back to civilization. The title may sound like an exaggeration but trust me when I say this, it is not. This will go down in history as the day I got lost in the forest and walked 17 kilometers! However to know exactly how I got to this point and how I found my way back I need to start from the beginning. Two years ago, I saw photos which some of my faculty had posted of visiting this place. And of course, since then it was on my bucket list to check it out for myself. The trouble was that it was relatively far and I would need enough time to fully explore it. I also need to learn how to properly drive a car and learn how to ride a scooty. This December, I had all the time in the world as I was clearly not going back to Dar-es-salaam neither was I going to Gujarat or anywhere else.

The trip was initially planned with a bigger group in mind but as all group plans go in the end it was only the two of us. My friend Tridib and I decided to take the trip anyway and so we started at Udupi Railway Station early in the morning waiting for the 7.30 am train to Kumta. Naturally, the train was late. In our case, it was one and half hours later and arrived at 9 am. That was the first set back we faced which would later go on to delay our entire day's plan. We reached Kumta at around noon and from the bus stop took a local bus to Yana Caves. This journey was uphill and passed through mountain roads, very slowly and therefore took us longer than I had anticipated.

Yana caves is not a commercialized tourist spot. You will find very few visitors and no guides whatsoever. I was aware of this before starting the journey but obviously, in no possible future outcomes did I expect myself to end up getting lost because of this. From the place where the bus dropped there was a three-kilometer climb uphill which was okay. We were super excited to see the caves. While making our way up we even came across a bunch of butterfly nests in the forest by a waterfall. It was truly magical to be alive and surrounded by nature away from hustle of the monotonous everyday life. On reaching the caves we were tired and it was about 2.30 pm. We explored the inside of the caves which was alive with bats and other creatures of the dark. 

The trouble began on the return journey. It should have been a simple three kilometer walk downhill to catch the 4 pm bus (there was one every hour, the last one at 5 pm) but the road to exit the caves was different from the entry route and it had no signs or arrows to lead the way to the bus stop. We had even asked a guard for the direction initially and followed what we were told but somehow unfortunately we were in the middle of no where. We did not know what to do. We kept walking around and there was no sign of people around us who we could ask on the way. It was close to 5 pm and it was getting dark. I prayed silently, dehydrated and starving. I had eaten a samosa and tea on the train and my stomach needed food to keep going. Drenched in our own sweat as we walked further on the road to nowhere, we heard some screams and one minute later a bus full of school kids passed on the road. We stopped it and it luckily gave us a ride. Usually buses did not come that way but they were trying to avoid the main road as they did not have proper permission for that bus. God, we were saved.

The bus dropped us off in Gokarna and we headed to Namaste Cafe at Om Beach to grab some dinner. I had some spinach-mushroom lasagna which was quite filling and delicious. I was exhausted but thankful at the same time. I had got my high dose of adrenaline and adventure to last me for quite some time. We had to catch a train back from Kumta to Udupi but it looked like the train was going to get delayed again and so we took a 9 pm bus back and I was back home by 1 am. The next day was another story. I thought my feet would hurt and turn to stone but instead what hurt was my back and shoulders probably due to carrying around my camera for the whole day and the bumpy bus journey where my giraffe-of-a-neck was too long to get any back support from the seats.

All's well that ends well. With that spirit, no matter how bad this year might have been, just like this trip let's remember all the good moments and move forward with an optimistic look for the coming year which may be filled with more adventures!

Five Tips For Planning A Trip To Yana Caves:

1. The mode of transport.
Do not rely on the train-bus combination because you are bound to get late if either of these get delayed. If you must use them try to catch a night train so you find yourself at Kumta by early morning and start your journey to the caves then ensuring you do not have to spend the night in the forest. The best would be to book a car/van/bus or go by bikes or private transport.

2. Go with a big group.
I am all about solo travel but if you are new at exploring or do not know the common language of the area it is best to travel in a group. Not only will you save money as the cost of a lot of items can be split but it will also be fun and more memorable.

3. Take some food with you.
It is wise to carry some food as it is a long journey and you might get hungry on the way. The best is some bananas as it will keep you full and give you the energy you need.

4.Start early in the day.
Try to start your trip as early in the day as possible or if you are doubtful start it the night before or stay over somewhere near Kumta that way you do not have to worry about travelling time being a problem.

5. Explore the surrounding places.
Now if you have found some extra time on your hands you can easily visit Mirjan Fort which is also in Kumta (next blog coming up). On the same train route you also have Gokarna and it's beaches, Murudeshwara temple and the beach next to it and of course Goa. So don't miss out on these!

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading the way I enjoyed writing it for all of you. If you have any questions or comments please post them below.  Stay curious and keep exploring! 

Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Mind Over Monsoons: How To Be Productive When It's Raining

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet -Roger Miller Its that time of the year again when the sunlight has been tuned ...